A potential move to red in New Zealand’s COVID-19 traffic light system will be devastating for the entertainment industry, a Christchurch events organiser said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the entire country will be placed under red status within 24 to 48 hours if community spread of the Omicron variant is detected. This will limit all public gatherings to 100 people, with vaccine passes required.
Callam Mitchell, director of events management firm Team Event, told Stuff that the government’s announcement goes against previous assurances that the red setting will only be used if the country’s health system is undergoing extreme pressure due to COVID-19.
“It would be devastating for our team who have worked so hard over the past year to pull these events together,” Mitchell said. “Not to mention the artists and suppliers who rely on events like ours, and the ticket holders who are looking forward to them.”
Team Event is preparing to hold four major events in Christchurch in coming weeks, including the Electric Avenue music festival, which has an expected attendee count of 25,000.
New Zealand has a government-backed insurance scheme for major events that will cover up to 90% of the costs of events with at least 5,000 attendees.
Despite this, Mitchell said that red status would still be a huge blow to the industry.
“We are protected by the government insurance scheme, but for now it's business as usual,” Mitchell said. “We’ll just get on and do our job for now, and hopefully the government will do theirs by keeping [Omicron] out of the community. We have a track record of being able to do our job. I guess we’ll see in the next few weeks whether they can do theirs.”